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Parenting in the Rain, Episode 18

When a Child has Suicidal Thoughts

In This Episode:  

Below are some snippets from a
conversation with Jonathan Singer, LCSW, Ph.D.  on this
episode of Parenting in the Rain podcast.

Jonathan shares that suicide is
the 2
nd leading cause of death in the United States.

“Risk factors” are different
than “warning signs” when talking about the issue of

Risk factors are conditions that
increase the person’s chance that they may try to take their life
by suicide.  It is important to know that having risk factors
doesn’t equate to suicide ideation or intent.

Warning signs are things that
let you know that there are foreseeable plans for suicide in the
near future.   It’s important that a thorough assessment
is done by a mental health professional if warning signs are

Expressing “hopeless” about the
future and talking about a plan are some warning signs to be aware

It’s important for parents to listen to their children,
especially when warning signs are present, and to take it
  Dismissing a child’s warnings signs
are not helpful and could be dangerous.

When someone dismisses a child’s
thoughts of emotional pain they may interpret the person as
conveying “your pain is not a priority to me”.

When adults can determine if the
child wants “to die” or just wants “to be happy”, a supportive
response can be more aligned with what is the best help for the
child during that time.

Parents should seek support from
mental health professionals
before suicide ideation is present if possible.

Sometimes the egocentric state
that can be present in teenagers due to a natural developmental
stage of adolescence can lead them to feel like thoughts of suicide
is something that “everyone” has present in their lives and feeling
like it is “normal”.  It is important to  concerns
relating to suicide early and often.

It’s important to seek
assistance from professionals when you suspect suicidal thoughts;
parents should not try to figure out how to help their child on
their own as even the professionals consult since it can be a
complex and is a serious matter.

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI)
is the intentional, self-inflicted harm to one’s body.

If someone is engaging in
self-harming behavior, even if believed to be NSSI, a suicide risk
assessment should be performed in a professional setting.

There are many reasons why
children engage in self harming behaviors, mental health
professionals can perform a suicide risk assessment and help with
issues surrounding the self-harming behaviors.

“Postvention” happens after a
suicide death to support people as it pertains to prevention of
future deaths by suicide and to address the grief and trauma of the

Jonathan mentioned a great
resource for schools, “After a Suicide: A Toolkit for


It’s important to be aware and a
part of your child’s social media world to use as your own
“megaphone” to communicate helpful information to those in need of

Sometimes children have more
than one social media account. It’s important to be aware and
involved as a parent.

Jonathan mentioned the following
quotes:  Carl Rogers’ quote, “Congruence e is the key to

And, the quote “Suicide doesn’t
take away the pain, it gives it to someone else.”

Hannah’s Heroes  is a
non-profit organization with a passionate mission to draw attention
to youth suicide prevention. They work with and through community
agencies and partners to develop solutions that provide support for
their community and prevent other losses.  Visit their website
and donate to their cause, Youth
Suicide Prevention, if possible.